A prototype micro device with biosensors was developed that can detect the deadly Ebola virus. With this type of device, those infected can be treated earlier, and the early detection process can potentially decrease the spread of infections.
The device utilizes CRISPR gene-editing technology to monitor and detect the nucleic acid markers that indicate Ebola virus; specifically, the EBOV strain, which has a high mortality rate. The rapid point-of-care system and biochemistry array for in-field pathogen diagnosis enables the Ebola RNA in test environments to be detected within five minutes by combining automated sample processing, fluorescence sensing, and a unique CRISPR-Cas13a assay originated from a bacterial adaptive immune system.
The microfluidic device is an automated and small chip with a highly sensitive fluorescence sensing unit embedded into the device. Physicians take patient samples and add them into the device where Ebola RNA can be seen by activating the CRISPR mechanism. A device that could detect multiple virus strains from Ebola to influenza and zika is also in development.
The low-cost device is easy to use, especially for medical personnel working in developing countries or areas where there are outbreaks. Hundreds of the devices could be brought to these areas for testing not just one virus or bacteria at one time, but many different kinds.